What's your Walk Score?
Brooklyn, NY 2007-08-01T17:32:09Z
Came across Walkscore yesterday. It is a Google Maps mashup which takes an address, plots out all of the restaurants, grocery stores, and other common personal services within "walking" distance, and then scores the location on a scale of 0 through 100 for walkability. Pretty neat, not surprisingly the places I've lived or am living in in Brooklyn and Manhattan score well into the "90s". There's some glitches though, which I'll describe after this table I whipped up of the walkability of places I've lived in the past 40 years (ignore the fact that as a one year old I was unlikely to walk anywhere):
|North Ave, Oak Park, IL||1967-1969||63|
|Wilcox St, Downers Grove, IL||1969-1971||51|
|Brainard St, Naperville, IL||1971-1975||78|
|Green Valley Circle, Culver City, CA||1975||80|
|Burr Oak Ln, Lisle, IL||1975-1976||58|
|Carpenter St, Downers Grove, IL||1976-1985||38|
|Randolph St, Meadville, PA||1985-1989||82|
|Wightman St, Pittsburgh, PA||1989-1991||74|
|Greenhill Dr, Fishkill, NY||1991-1992||23|
|Theresa Blvd, Wappingers Falls, NY||1992-1994||0!|
|Hudson Harbor Dr, Poughkeepsie, NY||1994-1995||55|
|Smokerise Ln, Wappingers Falls, NY||1995-1997||NA|
|Battery Place, New York, NY||1997-2000||97|
|Bridge St, Sydney, NSW, Australia||2000||NA|
|Hicks St, Brooklyn Heights, NY, NY||2001-2007||95|
|Main St, Brooklyn, NY||2007-||95|
I assume all of these glitches have more to do with the Google Maps API than the "patent-pending" Walkscore algorithm:
- I tried various iterations of the address on Smokerise Lane but Walkscore (really the Google Maps API) couldn't geocode it. It wasn't exactly new when I lived there ten years ago, I don't know enough about the API to guess where it's breaking.
- It totally blew my Sydney address on two levels: it placed it in North Sydney (which is a separate city, I think), and because Google do not have local data for Sydney (again: guessing) it rated it a 0 out of 100. If there's no applicable data at all something (Google Maps API? Walkscore?) should flag that as the condition and not just hand out a 0. Not that anyone who'd solely judge where to live based on Walkscore and thus rule out the Sydney CBD deserves to live in Sydney in the first place. I'm guessing that Google only has local data for the US.
- For our current place on Main Street in DUMBO, it includes services across the river in Manhattan. Again, knowing nothing about the Google Maps API but feeling the need to opine nonetheless, something, somewhere should be able to clue in and say
Yes, these things are within a mile radius of the starting point, however there is a (bridge|river|landfill|mountain) in between. This is not a new problem, plotting out the closest Staples Store to Amagansett, NY returns two locations in Connecticut which are technically closer than the third choice in Riverhead, NY, but require either swimming or flying to reach.
Still, a very cool mashup demonstrating the power of open APIs and open data for that matter.